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43 million plays earns songwriter $2,700 on Pandora

43 million plays earns songwriter $2,700 on Pandora
Pharrell / YOUTUBE

The future of streaming music is shining bright for you and me - we can listen to almost any song or album practically any time we want, and anywhere we want. But for the musicians making our favorite hits, the outlook is a lot bleaker.

If you've turned on your TV or radio AT ALL over the last six months, I’m sure you've heard the mega-hit pop song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. You would think he's probably earned a fortune of that song, but it certainly didn't come from Pandora. It's sad.

The streaming music service played the song 43 million times. I'll let you go ahead and guess how much revenue that brought in.

Pharrell earned just $2,700. Yes, a measly $2,700 for 43 million plays of his hit song.

According to an email from music publisher Sony/ATV CEO Marty Bandier: “This is a totally unacceptable situation and one that cannot be allowed to continue.”

However, others are arguing that it's very likely that Pharrell made more than $2,700. According to Business Insider:

Fusion's Rob Wile points out that these numbers aren't all inclusive and don't include performance rights royalty rates, so Pharrell likely earned more than the paltry $2,700 figure.

"According to industry analyst Michael DeGusta, Pharrell would likely have earned approximately $25,000 from the 43 million plays," Wile says.

And Pharrell isn't the only one. You might remember a few months back when Taylor Swift took a stand against these low wages when she pulled her entire catalog from Spotify, saying those streaming services don't respect her art.

It's also important to note that Pharrell is among a group of artists that is demanding that YouTube remove thousands of songs that it doesn't own the rights to. If YouTube doesn't comply, you can expect news of a $1 billion lawsuit against parent company Google in 2015.

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